What Are the Elements of Painting?

Line, shape, texture and color are the major elements of painting. Painting is the art of using paint to reveal the visual appearance of events and objects. The compositional elements of painting lead the eye into a painting and retain an interest in the subject matter.

Painters use different types of lines, including horizontal, vertical, curved and diagonal, to express feelings and ideas in paintings. Lines also vary in thickness and value and provide directional movement in the work, leading the eye through the image. Together, these lines form the patterns, shapes and textures also essential in painting.

Shapes can be geometric or organic in nature. Shapes are used to divide space in an image and distribute weight of the picture. They are interactive and evoke sensations of agitation, response, direction and purposeful direction. Colors are used to convey feelings and moods within the painting. The three primary colors used in painting are blue, red and yellow, while the secondary colors are green, orange and violet.

Texture is the visual patterning seen in materials. Visual textures are created with repetition of different types of marks or images. In the absence of other features, visual textures can help create focus interest and add dynamic energy to the image.